Portland, Oregon – The recent past:
Mark Kincaid calls out to his daughter Cessily telling her that she’s going to be late to practice. Cessily gets out of bed and tells her dad that she’s up and will be right down. As she looks into the mirror, silver liquid seems to stream across her face. Within seconds, her entire body has been transformed into liquid mercury. As he arms begin to elongate, she calls out “DADDY!” Her father knocks on the door and asks if she’s all right. Now in an amorphous mercury form, Cessily struggles to reach the bathroom and calls out weakly to her father for help. He busts in the door to see his beautiful daughter transformed into a heap of liquid metal. She struggles to retain a semblance of a humanoid shape and begs her dad to help her.
The Facility – The Present:
Mercury is strapped into a giant tube and is being examined by Dr. Harkins and his science team at the Facility. She calls out weakly for someone to help her. Dr. Harkins orders that the test begin again and the technician sends a jolt of electrical current through Cessily’s body. She cries out in agony and as the pain increases, the solidity of her shape decreases. As the energy discharge subsides, her face resumes its more human shape and she begs them to stop. She calls out to her teammate Laura… the last friendly face she saw.
Salem Center – Fourteen Hours Earlier:
X-23 cries out to Cessily as she is hit with a special arrow bolt that sends a violent electrical discharge through her mercurial body. Mercury is staggered by the attack. A second arrow hits Laura in the throat. Their attacker, the mercenary Kimura, orders her men to load Mercury into a containment unit while she deals with X-23.
One of the soldiers raises his gun to X-23’s head. She swiftly dispatches him with her claws and grabs his gun. She turns and fires at the troops who are trying to take Mercury. Kimura appears to be resistant to the gunfire and repeats her order to get Mercury secured. X-23 leaps at Kimura who deftly evades her attack. She tells X-23 that she should reach into her skull and pull her brain out after what she did in San Francisco.
X-23 slashes at Kimura’s chest and barely tears her uniform. Kimura smugly tells her that she’ll have to do better than that. X-23 returns the woman’s glare and replies “So are you” as she twirls the pin from one of Kimura’s grenades on her claw. As it dawns on Kimura what X-23 has done, the grenade on her belt explodes.
The blast throws X-23 away from Kimura, who seems barely phased by the explosion. As Kimura recovers from the shock, her troops signal that Mercury has been loaded into their van. Harkins calls in to verify that Cessily has been captured. Kimura confirms this and replies that she is dealing with X-23 now. Harkins tells her to forget the clone; they need the Kincaid girl at the Facility now. Kimura jumps into the van as it pulls away, taunting X-23 as she leaves and promising to see her soon.
The Xavier Institute – The Present:
Rockslide, Loa and Anole are watching a news report about the Young Avengers who are currently fugitives due to their refusal to register under the Superhuman Registration Act. Santo has never heard of the young heroes and asks the other who they are. Loa is stunned that Rockslide has never heard of them. Victor glibly explains to Santo that they’re like the Avengers, only young. He begins to add that two of them are gay but is interrupted by Santo who thinks it’s a joke.
Their banter is interrupted by Hellion who asks if they’ve seen Cessily. Santo pipes in and asks Julian if he knew there was a team of Young Avengers. Hellion replies that he knows and so what? Santo says they should go beat them up just for the heck of it. He thinks it’d be awesome and asks who their strong guy is. Victor tells him that it’s Hulkling which Rockslide thinks is a ridiculous name.
Hellion again asks about Cessily. Alani tells him that she saw Mercury earlier and that she was heading into town with Laura for some coffee. She adds that the two of them looked a bit intense. Julian thanks Loa and tells Santo thanks for nothing as he leaves to find the girls. Anole asks Loa if she thinks Santo could beat Hulkling and she replies that Hulkling would kill Santo. Rockslide reminds them that he’s right there!
Hellion makes his way to X-23’s room, still looking for Mercury. He peeks his head in to see X-23 suiting up to go after Mercury. She has clearly been in a fight and Hellion asks her what happened and where is Cessily. X-23 curtly replies that she’s gone and that she’s going to get her back. Hellion steps into her path and asks what she’s talking about. X-23 tells him that the people who made her have taken Cessily and the longer he delays her the harder it will be for her to track them down. Julian tells her that he’s going with her and she tells him no. His eyes flare with telekinetic energy and he launches them both through the roof of the mansion. He tells her that he’s going and she has no choice but to agree.
Meanwhile, Dust is meeting with Emma Frost to see if there is any word on her mother’s location. Emma shares that there is no news but tells Sooraya that she has asked Valerie Cooper to put pressure on the State Department to try and find something out. Emma tells Dust to trust her and assures her that she has nothing but the students’ best interests at heart. She asks if Sooraya trusts her and she says that she does after a moment’s hesitation. They are interrupted by a phone call from Rahne Sinclair who has called to report in about Kevin Ford AKA Wither. The call is cut short by the sound of rumbling outside as the Sentinels react to Hellion’s impromptu exit from the grounds.
Alexander Lexington reports in that this is not an attack and that this came from within the mansion. Colonel Reyes orders the threat level raised to red as they attempt to track the energy signal. He vows that there will be no more casualties and wants full reports from all of his agents on their assigned residents. He tells his staff to notify Scott Summers that he is requiring a full accounting of all X-Men and students immediately.
Earlier at the Facility, Mercury is unloaded from the van. She is confused as to what is happening and bangs against the containment tube she is in as they carry her away. Harkins greets Kimura and tells her that he delayed the latest tests so that she could watch. Kimura comments that Mercury has a lot of spirit and Harkins snidely remarks that she was a cheerleader. Kimura smirks and says that makes it all the better.
Mammomax is the subject of their latest tests. He yells out that they’ll all be dead when Exodus and the Brotherhood come for him. Harkins orders that the door be opened and Mammomax panics as a panel slides open to reveal some sort of beast with jagged teeth. Harkins and Kimura watch with glee in their eyes as Mammomax cries out in agony.
Back in New York City, X-23 and Hellion shake down some of the men involved in Mercury’s abduction. They find four of the men playing poker in an abandoned warehouse. X-23 knocks on the door and when one of the men looks through the peephole to see who it is, she slams her claws through the door and into his head. The other men draw their guns and fire at their unseen attacker. They see that it’s a girl and the boss of the crew makes a run for it. He gets into a car outside and calls to speak with someone at the Facility. He reports that their “cleaner” is at his warehouse and he wants her dead.
As he tries to flee, Hellions steps into the path of the car. It crashed into his telekinetic field. As the boss tries to get out of the vehicle, he grabs his gun. Julian rips the door from the car with his mind and yanks the gun from the man’s hand. X-23 grabs the gun with one hand and the boss with the other. She demands to know where the Facility is operating from on the east coast. The man swears he doesn’t know. X-23 gives him three seconds and levels the gun at his forehead.
He finally tells her that Cadillac Jones on the east side would know. He begs her not to kill him and tells her that he doesn’t know anything. X-23 tells him that she believes him and then shoots him in the head. Hellion is appalled and yanks the gun away with his telekinesis. He angrily asks why she did that and she replies that he did not have any more information for them. Julian insists that she didn’t have to kill him and X-23 tells him that this man worked for the Facility and as such, deserved to die. Hellion tells her that they’ll find Cessily but that there is to be no more killing. He asks if she understands and Laura just glares at him.
At the Facility, Kimura is enjoying a takeout box of noodles while the science team begins their examination of Mercury. Cessily asks where she is and asks what they want. Kimura snidely remarks that she could use some soy sauce. Mercury asks what they want with her and Kimura tells her that they want her flesh but that she’s just there for the show. Harkins enters and suggests that they begin. Mercury tells him that she has friends and that they will come for her. The machines hum momentarily before sending a violent shock through Mercury’s body. She cries out and Kimura smiles. She repeats what Mercury said, “Your friends will come for you” and tells Cessily that that’s what the elephant said. IN the pen where Mammomax was being kept, all that remains of him is his gargantuan, elephant-like skeleton which has been picked clean by the beast.